Liz Rosenberg reviews two new fables for older children in Sunday's Boston Globe (registration required after first reading)—Mordecai Gerstein's The Old Country and Jonathon Scott Fuqua's King of the Pygmies. Rosenberg likes both novels and says of The Old Country, "Gerstein has a few things to say about war and human nature -- in the sly form of a fable he can preach without being preachy, examine a terrifying world without terrifying his young readers. There are twists and surprises right to the end."
King of the Pygmies is a YA novel in which the main character begins to hear voices. Rosenberg raves about this one, writing, "King of the Pygmies never falters in its commitment to Penn's voice and story. It doesn't settle easily on the side of magic or of medicine, suggesting instead that the world may be more complicated, more terrible and beautiful and unnerving than we could ever believe."
Laura Miller of Salon was lucky enough to get to talk to Susanna Clarke and Neil Gaiman. Lots of interesting discussion about the fragmentary nature of British fairy/magical tales. Clarke and Gaiman say that it is this very fragmentary nature that has led to such interest in the magical in the U.K. Interesting conversation!
Verlyn Klinkenborg examines E.B. White's essay "Memorandum" today in the New York Times. Klinkenborg notes, "The essay begins with the words 'Today I should' and it ends not because White has run out of things that he should do but because it's getting dark, and his piece is already plenty long."
I love Klinkenborg's conclusion to the essay. He writes, "So why don't I get up and do the chores while the weather's good? And why didn't White stop typing and at least - at least! - 'carry a forkful of straw down to the house where the pig now is.' There is the writer's work, for one thing. But there is also the counterpoise of all those tasks that need doing. For the moment, it feels better to put everything off."